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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71051
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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i wrote my biography after surviving a brain haemmorage and

Customer Question

i wrote my biography after surviving a brain haemmorage and it refers to childhood abuse by my mother, foster father, step father, and my 2 ex husbands. my second husband is likely to stop me mentioning him, but i do have a witness to his abuse. can he stop me using our story in the book?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Will you name him?

Have you made any allegations to the police about him?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i have named him, but if i didn't it will be obvious who he is - he was quite high profile for a while in scotland and london. i did go to the police (in aberdeen) but the domestic abuse liaison officer called me to tell me her boss had told her that if she had anything to do with the case then she'd lose her job. su

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you.

You are free to print or say what you like as long as its true.

It is a bit more complicated than that though. You do not have to name him but if another person would identify him from what you've written then it doesn't matter whether he is named or not.

Also, to defend any action against him you would have to prove that the comments were true which is where your problem lies. It is very difficult to raise truth as a defence.

I do appreciate that you may have a witness but his evidence may be challenged in court.

You may know it to be true and you may have a witness to the abuse but he may well be able to call evidence to the contrary.

There is another issue even if the abuse is not in dispute and that is harassment.

By mentioning him in print you could be committing the first act of vexation required by the Protection from Harassment Act which is both a crime and a civil wrong.

If you are willing to be sued then these are risks you can run but it would be irresponsible of me not to warn you of the risks.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thanks for that - and good to find out at this stage.


how do other people manage to write about true events that may not sit well with the person they are writing about? is there a time frame maybe that could be involved? mine happened in 2001/2.



Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Here is an article on defamation that you may find interesting

The period of limitation is 12 months from the date of publication not the date of the occurrence.

If the subject has died there is generally less chance of the executors of the deceased’s estate bringing a claim for defamation.

The way other people get away with it is that they write about events which are not in dispute.

In your particular case it is your word against his as to whether this abuse actually took place or not.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

For Jo C


thank you for the article. i am thinking of changing the names and places and types of jobs, and trying to write it as being anonymous. some people already know that i am writing this book, but i am wondering that if i have gone as far as i can in covering up the identities would that be okay..........sort of names have been changed to protect the baddies!

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
If its possible to identify them from the description then that would still offend I'm afraid.